Archive for SMDM Movie

Bionic Review: The Solid Gold Kidnapping (1973)

Posted in movies, pop culture, Six Million Dollar Man, TV shows with tags , , , , , on February 15, 2013 by Paxton

Bionic Review
SMDM Movies

The third and final TV movie starring Lee Majors as the Six Million Dollar Man was called The Solid Gold Kidnapping and aired on Nov 17, 1973.

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Like Bond movies and the previous TV movie, this movie begins with Austin on an assignment.  He’s in Mexico rescuing a US Ambassador from some revolutionaries in the mountains.  After Austin successfully resuces the Ambassador, we meet the sinister group known as “The Company”.  It’s an organization similar to Bond’s SPECTRE.  They, unfortunately, would make no more appearances outside of this movie.  The Company kidnaps international negotiator William Henry Cameron and demands $1 billion for his return.  OSI and Oscar team up Steve Austin with Dr Erica Bergner to rescue him.  Dr Bergner’s specialty is the brain and she’s developed a procedure to transplant brain cells from one patient to another with the result being that the transplantee gains the transplanter’s memories.  So Bergner takes the brain cells from a captured henchman of The Company and transplants them into her brain.  She uses this henchman’s memories to help Steve find their headquarters.

Silly?  Yes, it is.  But they treat it fairly good in that she can’t just pluck whatever information she wants from the new memories.  Her brain needs time to adjust and process the new information.  She is constantly having random memories that aren’t her own and has to make sense of them before they mean anything.  I sort of liked that even if I thought the procedure was a bit hokey.

Overall, however, this final TV movie wasn’t the greatest.  I’m surprised that with the upcoming release of the first episode of the series, that these last two movies still hadn’t really nailed the “look and feel” of the series yet.  They really aren’t my favorites.  I’m also surprised that neither of these two TV movies adapted the second book in Caidin’s Cyborg series.  Well, I am and am not surprised because that second book is not very good.  It would have had to have been re-written.  But the third book, High Crystal, was excellent, however it wasn’t released until the following year in 1974.  But Caidin should have had most of the story, they could have used that.  Interestingly, the early Mexico scenes of The Solid Gold Kidnapping do actually echo the setting of that third Cyborg book.

But I honestly can’t recommend these movies to anyone but hardcore bionic fans.  We still don’t get any of the signature bionic sounds, so watching Steve do these feats with no audio cue is still a little weird.

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Bionic Review: Wine, Woman and War (1973)

Posted in Bionic Man, movies, pop culture, Six Million Dollar Man, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on January 28, 2013 by Paxton

Bionic Review
SMDM Movies

After the original Six Million Dollar Man TV movie, there were two more produced and both of them aired in 1973. The first was called Wine, Women and War and aired on Oct 20, 1973.  Here’s an ad from a 1973 newspaper featuring the TV listing for this movie.  Lee Majors’ picture is on the right, the blub about the movie is in bold in the far left column.

SMDM - Wine Women War

Wine, Women and War doesn’t go directly to the action, it actually has an opening title sequence. And it’s an awesomely 70s opening sequence with an awesomely 70s theme song by Dusty Springfield. Check it out.

“Catch him if you can, feed him if you can, love if you CAAAAAAAAAAAN!  He’s the Six Million Dollar MAAAAAAAN!”  Amazing, isn’t it?

So, right off the bat we see a few things that are new.  Richard Anderson debuts as Oscar Goldman and Alan Oppenheimer debuts as Rudy Wells taking the place of Martin Balsam.  You also notice the absence of Darren McGavin as Oliver Spenser.  This movie was sort of an overhaul of the Six Million Dollar Man as far as the cast goes.  Only Lee majors would remain.  The weekly television series would have been in production at this point as its debut was only months away in Jan 1974.  I assume the player pieces were falling into place.  The story concepts were still being worked out, though, as the story for this movie is essentially, “What if James Bond were bionic?”.  This movie is a complete rip-off of the Bond franchise.  Austin is treated as the debonair super-spy.

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So the story begins with Austin on assignment in Egypt to steal an arms dealer’s catalog. In classic Bond fashion we see Austin pull off his wet suit to reveal a fully dry tux underneath.  Later, during the action, Austin’s female companion is killed. Afterwards Steve is reluctant to go out on another assignment so Oscar arranges for a vacation. However Oscar doesn’t tell Steve that the vacation is actually his next assignment, just manipulated by OSI agents that are following along to look like a vacation. Oscar can be kind of a dick. Although we do get to see Steve mistake a lady who is flirting with him on his plane for a prostitute. That was pretty funny.  And plenty of other Bond-like double entendres ensue throughout the movie.

So Steve discovers Oscar’s ruse and stumbles upon the trail of the previously mentioned arms dealer and Steve goes after him hoping to get revenge for his companion’s death.  Like I said, all very Bond-like.

Honestly, on one level it totally works.  It’s just so absurd and contrary to the Austin we come to know in the TV series that it’s almost fun to watch.

I can recommend this, but honestly, you can’t really watch it as a Six Million Dollar Man movie/episode. It’s a spy movie that just happens to have Steve Austin, the bionic man.

Bionic Review: The Six Million Dollar Man TV movie (1973)

Posted in pop culture, Six Million Dollar Man, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on December 21, 2012 by Paxton

Bionic Review

SMDM Book

Steve Austin first appeared on TV in the made-for-television movie The Six Million Dollar Man which was broadcast in March 1973.  It appeared as the ABC Wednesday Movie of the Week. Here’s an item from the TV section of a 1973 newspaper announcing the airing of the movie. SMDM newspaper ad You can see Lee Majors’ picture in the upper left and the mention of the movie is in the upper right. Majors is sporting a pretty hardcore 70s mustache in that picture which he does NOT have in the movie.

Unlike the other bionic TV movies (and TV show), there really is no “title sequence” per se in this special. This particular movie starts with a computer screen telling the viewer the definition of the word cyborg and then cuts directly to a desert airfield and the movie title over Lee Majors walking towards camera.smdm_pilot1 The very first scene is the airplane crash that will create the future bionic man.  We then get all the setup with the OSO, or Office of Special Operations (changed to OSI, Office of Scientific Investigation, in the subsequent movies and TV show).  A man named Oliver Spencer, Oscar Goldman won’t appear until the second movie, is petitioning for money to create a “cyborg” for use in special ops.  Oliver Spencer is played very cold and calculating by Darren McGavin who would famously play the Old Man in A Christmas Story.  Spencer approaches Dr Rudy Wells, played by Martin Balsam, to convince Steve to volunteer to become their cyborg.

Most of the TV movie follows the original book, Cyborg, fairly closely. The movie focuses on Steve coming to grips with his bionic limbs and being trained to go out on missions. Majors plays Austin as very reluctant to accept the limbs and even when he does accept them, he still has a lot of problems understanding why they would want to do that to him and what is eventually going to be the cost to him. After all of the psychological drama, Spencer sends Austin on his first mission and we find out that it’s essentially a suicide mission.  One that Spencer wants to see if Austin can complete.  He remarks to Rudy that they can always build another bionic man.  Totally cold and hardcore, that Spencer.

This was a pretty good beginning.  It wasn’t great, but it was good.  A little slow in parts, but overall, I enjoyed it.  It should be noted that the bionic sound effect most identified with the show is not present here.  It had yet to become a staple in these early adventures.  It’s honestly weird to see Austin perform bionic feats and not have the bionic sound.  It just doesn’t sound “right”.  Other than that, I like Lee in this role and I look forward to the two other TV movies.

It’s interesting to note, though, that years later this TV movie was subsequently re-edited for syndication as a two-part episode called The Moon and the Desert.  This newer edit puts a later season intro on the episodes which is confusing considering the episodes’ content.  Also, Martin Balsam returned to do some voice over work to help bridge some of the disjointed scenes.  That in and of itself is off putting since Balsam never played Rudy Wells on the TV show, it was Allen Oppenheimer.  Also, since this syndicated cut was created after the show had gone off the air, there were several other scenes that were added from later season Six Million Dollar Man and even Bionic Woman episodes.  It’s a pretty crazy and baffling amalgamation of footage.  Surprisingly, the syndicated “Moon and Desert” episodes are included as a bonus feature on the complete series box set.  However, they are really only good to watch as a curiosity and not very entertaining.